At any harbor deli, one can feel almost immediately at home. They are their own genre, familiar in their patterns and menus.
1. Accessible by Land or Sea: While you can arrive by car, launch or dinghy is vastly preferable.
|It used to be that all cruising guide books would have icons denoting pay phones on land.|
2. Independently Owned and Operated. Yet they are more similar than fast food chains. Fnord.
3. The Big Board: Handwritten, with dozens of options, yet we always place the same, custom order.
4. Open Food Prep: Has that Soviet vibe of standing in one line to order, one line to pay, and then still waiting around until the food is ready. One milestone is when they know your name without asking, then when they know your order without asking.
5. A Full Range of Customers: Where else can Ivy League Professors and CEOs stand in line with dock repair people and quarry workers?
6. The All Important Tip Jar: The workers at the harbor deli are over-qualified, and one suspects that the ratio of tip money spent on pre-med text books is higher here than almost anywhere else.
7. The View: The view is often much better than the premium residential real estate nearby, but no one seems to notice it, except on Sunday mornings.
8: Local Events. Germany may have had its beer halls where political movements were formed, but in Coastal New England, the hot bed of activism is captured and fanned by the bulletin boards.
9. The Free Papers: While waiting for food, there are always free papers, from predictable to bizarre. There are also copies of WSJ and NYT, which are technically for sale, but everyone flips through those as well while waiting.
10. Postcards: But no one ever buys them.
11. Hip Drinks: The refrigerators seem to be the C.E.S. of the beverage world. Bring your sunglasses.
12: The Desserts: While the grownups plan to just get a quick sandwich, the youngsters have much bigger ambitions for their haul. Baked desserts are either made on the premises or locally and delivered.
13. Miscellaneous: Each deli has its own seasonal, regional, or just bizarre specialty items.
14. Dogs. Outside the door are three or four dogs, waiting for their masters, forming their own canine reception line. Petting each is not optional.
15. Outside Eating Area: Small, and the subject of plenty of zoning disputes with neighbors.
16. Ice Machines: The real detail that distinguishes a harbor deli from simply a deli that happens to be near the water is the ice machine, the lifeblood of any trip.
|To a sailor, this is a picture of an ice machine.|
If you have a favorite harbor deli, please let others know where it is.